Better late than never
I know the season has been over for a few weeks now, but I've been too busy to get this post up. It turned out to be a little long, but it's one of my better huntin' stories.
Due to a busy schedule, I wasn't even planning on hunting archery this year. It seemed like every appliance and vehicle I own broke right before the season. After repairing my fridge, washer, family car, work van, and porch light there were three days left. Having not practiced at all, I decided to use a crossbow that my father offered up for me to borrow. It took 3-4 hours of playing around before I felt comfortable with the new weapon, an older 10 point with a red dot. By the end of the afternoon I was hitting a 3" bulls eye out to 45 yards, which was impressive to me having never shot a x-bow before.
The first two days, I spent all day in the stand and saw a single, far off doe each day. It was nice to finally get out into the woods so I didn't care much, but by the end of the second day I was ready for a little action. When the alarm clock went off that last Saturday, I was still a little tired from the two previous days so I hit the snooze(or so I thought). Ended up turning it off by accident and woke up late. I had to run out of the house in a panic without even a drop of coffee.
My hustle paid off and it was getting light just as I was putting on my safety harness. It was about this time as I was considering choking down the last bit of cold coffee in my thermos form the day before, that I heard crashing. I could make out some deer in the morning light moving through the thicker trees heading toward my first opening.
Just as the first deer/doe were coming out, I heard grunting like I've never heard before. It was short bursts and almost continual. It sounded like an excited young hunter with his/her first grunt tube. I could see more deer on the way. Next out was a small fork horn, followed by an almost identical buck missing one antler. A few more doe went by. There was still quite a bit of commotion coming down the trail and the grunts were getting louder. The deer were obviously being pushed but not at a flat out run. I could make out some horns on the next two even before they stepped out. The next two were legal 8's and I would have shot either one, but the grunting was still coming from behind them and getting louder. All of this happened in less than a minute and the adrenalin was finally taking hold. With a slight tremble and no more desire for coffee, I could see the next deer-shaped shadow was enormous. Here he comes... raise the x-bow....deep breath... here we go...
He stepped out at 15 yds. broadside. A quick look at his head and I felt like I was kicked in the junk. One, two, three... one, two, THREE!?!!? Standing before me was the biggest buck I'd ever seen (5 1/2 - 6 1/2 yrs old), which was really impressive considering he was a non-legal 6 point. I'd seen him last year and thought he was a biggin then even with the same six points. His mass and tine length had just about doubled since then.
After deciding not to undo my safety strap and take a nose drive out of my stand in sheer disappointment, I watched this herd(now out of range) for awhile. The big six was shagging doe, passing on his bad genes and stopping in between partners to chase the smaller bucks and keep them from mounting up. I've been hunting a long time and have never seen so many deer (15+), just acting like deer. It was really enjoyable. I figured there was a good chance one of the smaller 8's would get kicked back my way so I waited patiently. They slowly started meandering away from me. When it became clear that they would soon be gone, I decided to give a grunt or two. As rutted up as this group was, I figured the grunt would have some effect. Well it did, the whole herd broke like I was banging pots together. I slumped back into my seat, considering swearing off hunting forever.
Snap!! Crunch!! Rustle!!... Wait!! What's this.. A reason to live...Off in the distance from a different trail two more deer where headed my way. My interest in hunting (and living) was further restored when I saw horn at a fair distance on the second. Nice buck... legal too... much closer now, headed for an opening. X-bow up again, he steps out. I give a mouth bleat. He stops 15yds broadside. I let it fly... THUMP!! He takes a few quick steps and stops. I look down to see the bolt buried up to the fletchings in a log. I MISSED!?!?! I watch horrified as he makes his way slowly down the trail. I'm trying to watch him, reload, and stay quiet all simultaneously when he staggers... two quick steps and he staggers again... and falls. It takes my head a minute for it to register. Apparently I hadn't missed after all. I look at the bolt again and notice it's a lot more red than it was when I fired it.
Wow!! is all I can say. I'm buying a crossbow next year. The buck barely even noticed the deadly projectile zipping through his vital organs. It was one of my most memorable hunts and it was over by 8am.
Here's a pic of the skull after it was cleaned up.
He was a 3 x 4, but bigger and more massive than any of my previous 8 pointers. He aged at 3 1/2. The 3 point side is a little abnormal, larger, has two fly holes, and has a more upward angle, which made me give him the nickname "hellboy" (heckboy if the filter bleeps it). He was the biggest bodied deer I've ever taken. I didn't weigh him, but it took me twice as long to make the same drag I do every year (1 mile+). I'd guess 150-160 lbs. After I got him dressed and tagged I managed to take a doe less than an hour later. Best last day of archery I've ever had. Followed by the longest two weeks of butchering I've done.
He had a small hole clean through the skull between the antlers and an inch toward the back. It was about the size of a pencil lead. My best guess is he rubbed it on a nail in a fence post. His rack had deep gouges I assume caused by barbed wire. Any other guesses to the cause of this hole are welcome.